I’ve heard its going around

Here’s the thing. I’m back from Belize, and I think I may have been born in the wrong country. Also, I might be living in the wrong city. It’s possible that I am totally lost in the world.

I have been so disoriented since arriving home Tuesday that I’ve done things like: pack up all my power cords and homework and earphones and books to do homework at the coffee shop, but left the computer at home.

Yesterday I could hear people talking, but when they walked away I looked around and realized I hadn’t heard a word they said. This was me all day: So, we are having class in room 103 today? So, what’s going to be on the quiz? So, when is that due? Wait. What article was it? Was I supposed to write that down?

Also, I sneezed while reaching for a cabinet on Wednesday and totally threw out my neck and back. I couldn’t move my left side or lift my left arm past 45% or turn my neck in any direction. My classmates kept saying I had a stroke or meningitis. I totally believed them because I’m prone to hypochondria. But deep down I knew I had the what-am-I-doing-here-I-don’t-know-anybody-this-is-not-my-home-plus-I-hate-homework-and-am-desperately-heartsick-for-my-hilarious-and-warm-Belizey-family…or-at-least-that-other-family-in-Indianapolis…you-know-the-blood-relatives… virus.

I’ve heard it’s going around.

So, at 4:30, I propped up all my little pillows around my left back and watched Christmas movies and Belize videos until I fell asleep sometime around 10. I have decided that this business of caring for people is hard. There are always goodbyes. And yes, they’re followed by hellos, but then usually goodbyes again. I don’t really feel at home anywhere. My foot is in two states and my heart is in two countries.

My friend Steph said: Brooke, welcome home to wherever you are hanging your fanny pack today. (Steph, for your information it’s a rugged Eddie Bauer bag.) But then she quoted Hebrews 11, reminding me to live in the light of eternity and as a comforting reminder that someone is saying, I’ll leave the light on for you:

Hebrews 11
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God… 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Tonight, I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, Earth. I only have a few videos connecting me to some of my favorite places and people and moments everywhere else, but I’ll share them with you if you’ll have them:

Ricardo singing at the Teacher party

Election night with Inez and Antonia when UDP won

Standing on the balcony at Cahal Pech singing “Somewhere out there” with Ashley and Kenz to the village…

Teasing Bryon, and the kids.
(Don’t get mad, you guys. I just miss you and your weird fear of cameras.)


Parasite, I think we should just be friends.

Yesterday morning, after dreaming I was in Indianapolis, I woke up in Belize and wondered who I was and what I did with myself.

And then it happened (it was bound to): I cried.
I cried in bed.
I cried while I was getting ready.
I cried all the way to school.

Europe felt like a dream—I had to look at the blog to see that it was really me.
My friends felt imaginary—I had to text to make sure they still existed.
I wanted a hug from my dad.
I wanted to understand one entire, full conversation.
I wanted to digest food.

I’d been sick since Friday and “caught a pain” every time I ate.
(I had only eaten one cucumber and one tomato all day Saturday, which is the day I hiked Xunantunich.)
One old lady said it was air.
Another lady said I don’t eat in time.
Another lady said I don’t eat enough.

They gave me boiled garlic.
They gave me lime water.
They gave me Pepto.
On Sunday night, when nothing worked and I turned down CAKE, Alice said it was amoebas.

Antonia said, “Come Brooke, right now,” and she hitched us a ride to Cayo on Monday morning.

We went to the Post Office and, incidentally, paid 95 cents for a package that came regular express mail—got here in 3 weeks, and had a blanket, crackers, PB & chocolate: perfect. (Thanks, Denise ☺)

Then we went to the lab.
They took two blood tests and asked for a stool sample.
I cannot produce stool on demand.
(Not even explosively)
They told me blood results would be ready at 2pm and would tell whether or not I had a bacterial infection. It would also rule out salmonella.
The stool sample was most important, the man said. It would confirm and diagnose the right treatment for the right amoeba. He gave me a little container and told me come back at 2.

Poor Antonia.
We ate huge burritos and walked around for 2 hours trying to provoke the problem I’d been trying to avoid for 4 days. I had 3 false attempts and sent out a mass text asking for prayer that God would supernaturally “move” me (which is ironic, since all weekend I was begging God to stop “moving” me—or to at least stop “moving” me in public places). But nothing.

I had given up all hope and started to feel crazy, like I’d made the entire illness up, and decided I probably didn’t have amoebas anyway…

When lo and behold, in the computer lab, I moved.
Antonia stood up in suspense, so did the lab worker and the 3 other people checking their email—and I gave a victorious thumbs up.
It was 2:15.

“Right now, Brooke,” she said. We gathered our things and went straight to the lab.
I handed over my sample proudly (and all but bowed and curtsied), then waited 15 minutes for the results.

2 Amoeba (parasites)
1 E. Coli
1 blood infection

We took the lab results, thanked the man, and headed for the doctor—an internist Antonia’s sister works for. First, though, we stopped at the furniture store to pay a bill. It wasn’t until we were leaving that I realized we paid an electric bill, and that the electric office was in the back of the furniture store…

The doctor looked at the lab tests, stuck a thermometer in my armpit, and conducted a physical-like exam. He answered all my questions and gave me 3 antibiotics: two for the amoeba, one for the blood infection.

We paid about $200 BZ (which is about $100 US) for the blood tests, stool samples, Dr. visit and antibiotics.

Sidenote: Antonia’s father told me that the water filtration/cleansing machine broke recently, and, No, they do not have little scrolling “boil water advisories” at the bottoms of the TV screens here. You either know those things or you don’t. We don’t drink the water, but all of us bathe in it, and I definitely brush my teeth with it.

My issue (we think) has more to do with no refrigerator and eating food that has been sitting out but not reheated. Its too hot for that. Bacteria grows. We tried to explain the bacteria to Ms. Ida, but she doesn’t believe me. She thinks my stomach is just allergic to cold things. She insists that I shouldn’t drink cold water or sprite. Only coffee.

Bottom line: Ms. Ida does not have a refrigerator, and we just don’t waste food, you know? Bottomer line: there is no hand soap to be found among the kids. I don’t prepare my own food, and I play with the kids all the time.

*Interesting insight, an email from a friend said: “Pray that God uses this to help you understand what people in different places go through, and that maybe others don’t always have the means to take care of it like you do, or as quickly.”

When I got home, I called Hillside (a clinic in PG with doctors CFI knows and trusts) and double-checked everything with Patricia. She said they are taking good care of me and that she would have prescribed the exact same meds. She told me to boil my water bottle and toothbrush, and then echoed everything the Dr. said. She told me I’d be feeling better in a few days, fully recovered in about 2 weeks.

Then she invited me down to PG for a weekend in March!

I took the meds, slept all night, washed my sheets this morning and have enjoyed a nice relaxing day in front of the fan with my trusty little MacBook and gmail chat. Thanks for the concern, and for chatting with me today, friends!

In the meantime, I have decided to name the parasites Samantha and Jon, after our first cats. They died.

Pray for a quick evacuation of all things buggy. Also, I couldn’t help but remember the Kirsty Alley episode where they tell her to go to a developing country and get a parasite to “reduce” and I laughed about it all day. Funny. I’m definitely reduced.

Week four, look out! You’re almost over.

(In all seriousness, your e-mails and comments and phone calls mean a lot. I have been really homesick this week. Thank you.)

May I be frank?

In an email, someone asked if I have low moments here and what they look like.
Trust, I have them. And, yes, I’ll share.

Everyday when I come home from school, there are these little tiny fire ants on my bed. I’ve searched the premises. I can’t figure out where they’re coming from or how they get there. But those stupid ants are consistent. They show up daily at 3:30 like a blood-sucking welcome committee. I think it might be the window.

Sometimes my clothes don’t get dry all the way and end up smelling like mildew. Usually I have to rewash the damp ones in a Ziplock bag with a few drops of ALL in my room, and last night the Ziplock leaked and spilled all over my floor.

I am tired of “letting it mellow”. Sometimes I just want to flush, okay? It’s how I was raised.

Electricity was out in the village from Saturday afternoon to Sunday night. I don’t know why—they say it happens all the time. While I was showering, the water also went out—mid shampoo. I had to go around back to the rainwater faucet and rinse, and then back to the pitch-black bathroom. When I switched on the flashlight, a little roach scurried out of the sink. (They are my newest freak-out, recently surpassing spiders.) I ran back to the outside faucet and brushed my teeth there, where I could keep an eye on every living, breathing, moving thing.

Today, I am tired of hearing loud Spanish rap outside my window. I am trying to sleep.

On that note, I am really tired. Like, exhausted. This morning I did not want to get out of bed, because it was pouring down rain and cold out—the type of day I might have taken advantage of in the States to call in sick and lay on the couch watching Oprah. But I remembered my purpose here (and my lack of access to Oprah) and forced myself to not play sick. I walked the mile to school in the pouring rain only to find that classes had been canceled—due to rain. (Funny, yes. But I am beginning to realize that rain can be a real a problem if your kids live 1-2 miles from school and walk everyday, or if the downpours are so hard you can’t hear the teacher teaching, or if your school has open windows.)

I taught my lesson to those faithful 6 kids who showed up in boots and raincoats, and then I walked home. I thought I deserved a choco-banana for my efforts, but the lady across the street was out.

Those are what ordinary low moments look like for me.

That said, I had a monumental moment Sunday night praying for the girls on The Youth Discipleship Walk. It made me cry just thinking about them and remembering what it was like the first time I really understood agape love.

It brought to mind this favorite Mother Teresa quote:

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

And it inspired me to always LOVE loving people, even when— especially when our cups feel empty, because in the loving, God, who IS love, will fill us up. It’s true.

Example: Just five minutes ago Stephanie and Norelli knocked on my door (in the middle of this crap list) and begged me to pick limes with them, because I am tall and can reach the best ones. Picking limes was the absolute LAST thing I wanted to do today— I really wanted to just lay in bed dreaming about pizza and Oprah, but I went. It was the best 20 minutes of my day. The walk was refreshing, I enjoyed the coolness, the conversation, the breaking clouds, the opportunity to be available for two eleven-year-olds who just wanted to hang out, and I enjoyed a tall, dreamy glass of lime-aid when we returned ☺

Here is my new campaign:

“Love me”